December 11, 2003


FrontPage interviews Christopher Hitchens. Some highlights:

FP: What is it deep down in the heart of a leftist anti-war activist that spawns his opposition to Bush in the face of an evil such as Saddam and Osama?

Hitchens: There is a noticeable element of the pathological in some current leftist critiques, which I tend to attribute to feelings of guilt allied to feelings of impotence. Not an attractive combination, because it results in self-hatred.

FP: Are any segments of the Left receptive to your message? How have you been received by the Left in general with your stance?

Hitchens: Most of the leftists I know are hoping openly or secretly to leverage difficulty in Iraq in order to defeat George Bush. For innumerable reasons, including the one I cited earlier, I think that this is a tactic and a mentality utterly damned by any standard of history or morality. What I mainly do is try to rub that in.

Saddam-cuddling, success-loathing, self-hating semi-people. More power to Hitchens.

UPDATE. Atrios and Tim Dunlop are exhilarated to discover this Hitchens quote, from the above-linked interview:

Watching the towers fall in New York, with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyze at first and didn’t fully grasp (partly because I was far from my family in Washington, who had a very grueling day) until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration.

They’re lefties, so they’re a little slow. This "confession" was first made more than two years ago:

I should perhaps confess that on September 11 last, once I had experienced all the usual mammalian gamut of emotions, from rage to nausea, I also discovered that another sensation was contending for mastery. On examination, and to my own surprise and pleasure, it turned out be exhilaration. Here was the most frightful enemy -- theocratic barbarism -- in plain view. All my other foes, from the Christian Coalition to the Milosevic Left, were busy getting it wrong or giving it cover. Other and better people were gloomy at the prospect of confrontation. But I realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost.

His exhilaration was not at the deaths of thousands but at the exposure of a pure enemy. Dunlop and Atrios are still busy getting it wrong.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 11, 2003 01:52 AM

"What I mainly do is try to rub that in."

Is he, or is he not, totally fucking awesome.

Posted by: matt at December 11, 2003 at 02:05 AM

he really is.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 11, 2003 at 02:24 AM

Yes, he really is awesome. And he's been awesome for years and years, and conservatives have only recently noticed. Welcome to the long-standing Christopher Hitchens Fan Club.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 11, 2003 at 02:46 AM

i became a fan when i read his 'obit' on that wack-job diana

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 11, 2003 at 03:04 AM

I think many libertarians realized years ago that Hitchens was one of the few reasonable voices on the left. He's still on the Left, he just still makes sense.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at December 11, 2003 at 03:46 AM

"He's still on the Left, he just still makes sense."

a rare combination indeed these days

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 11, 2003 at 04:01 AM

Whether he's still on the Left or not, it's certainly refreshing to hear someone-anyone- criticize W when he actually needs it, rather than as a function of existence. Most of the Left establishment would blast W for solving world hunger by pointing to all the fat sub-Saharan Africans and saying "you monster, look what you've done!"

Posted by: R at December 11, 2003 at 05:08 AM

Meanwhile, UN too terrified to do anything.

"Annan: Iraq too dangerous for UN"

Posted by: Andyzero at December 11, 2003 at 06:36 AM

The Left is in a moral bind over the war, politically hating Bush but philosophically committed to the war against pre-modern fundamentalism and modern fascism.
So I suppose it is fair and reasonable for Hitchens to savage them for bad faith on this issue.
TB, approvingly quoting Hitchens, suggests that Leftist anti-war types are:

Saddam-cuddling, success-loathing, self-hating semi-people.

Some Leftists, eg Pr Quiggin, opposed the war on utilitarian grounds as they did not think that the humanitarian gains (oppression reduction) would exceed the costs ($300 bill, 30,000 kia/wia)
Surely TB would not include leftist anti-warriors such as Pr Quiggin in the class of "self-haters..." etc?

And does TB acknowledge that the most:

  • accurate intellectual critics of the war are from the Right? eg Pat Buchanan, Steve Sailer

  • ardent political opponents of the war come from the traditionally non-Left military? eg Powell, Clark, Zinni, Schwarzkopf, Wilkie

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 11, 2003 at 08:27 AM

Once again, Hitchens has encapsulated my views perfectly and even said them almost as well as I would have. Er, I mean, he says intelligently what had sort of been coalescing semi-coherently in my head...

I especially like that he won't give the Front Page guy an inch on what might be called the Ann Coulter History of the 20th Century, reminding him that the Right was wrong plenty of times, too, and that the point of this era is that all the old definitions are changing, all the old labels are lazy and border on meaninglessness. What hasn't changed is a commitment to human freedom and against totalitarianism by any name. Great interview.

Posted by: Mike G at December 11, 2003 at 08:33 AM

Hitchens is quite mad about History.
He thinks that the 1968 anti-war Cultural Revolution, and the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution, were the crowining achievements of Trotskyites:

What I didn’t understand then was that this was the very end of something - the revolutionary Marxist tradition - rather than a new beginning of it. But it had its aspect of honor and of glory.
Its greatest culmination turned out to be in 1989, when the delayed or postponed effects of 1968 helped bring down the Berlin Wall altogether.

This is self-serving ideological delusion.
The anti-war and anti-communist movements were both nationalist in character.
The Vietcong were nationalistic socialists.
The Velvet Revolutionaries were nationalistic liberals.
Trotskyites had nothing to do with it. Stalin killed them all.
The Soviet Union was dissolved by:

  • external pressure: overpowered by the US military-industrial complex (FDR 1940 - RR 1985)

  • internal reform: Gorby's perestroika and glasnost

Gorby was a typical (Hitchens-despised) social democratic Menshevik if ever there was one.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 11, 2003 at 08:45 AM

You're mad about history too, Jack. You and your social democrat Mensheviks!

What hasn't changed is the tendency of the modern left-lite to so unflinchingly oppose America that it will hope for and and exult over failure in order to feed that opposition - like some kind of weird hate addiction that has neither basis in logic nor connection with what should be a left given - the liberation of the masses from tyranny.

Posted by: ilibcc at December 11, 2003 at 09:54 AM

The post-humanitarian left & the neo-isolationist right have not participated in the serious debate on the war because they have failed build into their arguments, let alone their worldviews, the central fact in the world today.

They tend to deny this central fact, or facilely dispense of it, or admit it yet then forget it like an infant forgets a ball that has rolled behind a chair.

This central fact does not need to be stated in terms of what some people are willing to do, since there are always some people willing to commit incredible evil, always an ideology of murder, always a death cult—one or more.

All in all, I shouldn’t need to spell this central fact out at all. And in fact, I think I’ll go eat first.

Posted by: ForNow at December 11, 2003 at 10:28 AM

ilibcc thinks that I am "mad about History"
He should know, his foaming-at-the-mouth brand of 'wing nuttery is as good a clinical example of common or garden variety madness as you will find.
Some sixth sense in my blog radar detects alot of bottled up frustration in him. Perhaps he should pull on a pair of combat boots and get it out of his system in Iraq.
Sadly it would be to no security-avail. He seems to have fallen for the neo-con WMD hoax, proving that one can be mad and sad at the same time.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 11, 2003 at 11:04 AM

hitchens seems to have pinched some ideas from kaczynski's unabomber manifesto. check out the chapter on "the psychology of modern leftism". (it's on the net, just google it)

Posted by: roscoe at December 11, 2003 at 11:17 AM

Jack, do relax - my opening line was a mere rejoinder to yours about Christopher Hitchens; you obviously do enjoy delving into the minutiae of history.

My second paragraph refers to the left anti-war activists which are the subject of the post, not to yourself.

Posted by: ilibcc at December 11, 2003 at 11:38 AM

jack, the "neo-con WMD hoax". That the same hoax that everyone from the UN to mad yelping Margo believed in until five minutes after Baghdad was liberated? If the neo-cons could pull off such a powerful hoax, surely it would have been a soda to dig up a few phoney WMDs?

Posted by: slatts at December 11, 2003 at 11:56 AM

World security conditions have entered a period of relatively rapid change without end in sight. No longer can one staidly discuss the This is because of the central fact in the world today.

The central fact in the world today, the one without which one is still living in a staid, gone, irretrievable past, is that there is no sign of any abatement in the accelerating pace of the general development, in power, accessibility, miniaturization, concealability, deadly combinations, etc., of technologies adaptable for mass destruction—irradiative, nuclear, chemical, biological, &, eventually, nano- or near-nanotechnological. One must build this into one’s thinking, & not soon forget it as an infant forgets a ball that has rolled behind a chair. It ramifies into all geopolitical questions.

And remember, we’re talking about an acceleration with no end in sight. The future will again & again be upon us sooner than we think.

Deadly combinations: e.g., an advance in aerosol tech can amount to an advance in biowarfare tech. Grievous asymmetrical warfare looms increasingly possible.

World security conditions have entered a period of comparatively rapid change, with no end in sight, & with chaos & pandemonium a very real possibility.

As it becomes possible to wreak mass destruction without being traced, deterrence collapses.

If we don’t know who irradiated, nuked, poisoned, or plagued one or more (as the days go by) of our cities, then what do we do, hit all of the usual suspects? Mass horror in response to mass horror. The culprits might even be whackos like AUM in Japan or simply regard humanity as a plague on the earth, be some sort of eco-nuts.

It’s better to reduce the number of variables now, the cranky despots, the terrorist organizations & subcultures having or seeking global reach, & the potential or actual interactions & collaborations among them, the malign & malignly exploitable strategic synergies of their sheer simultaneity—reduce it all while we have the window of opportunity to do so—a very FINITE window. We must reduce the size, the complexity, & the opacity of the swamp.

Wake up. What if the Unabomber had been not a mathematician but a molecular biologist?

Posted by: ForNow at December 11, 2003 at 12:15 PM

"Atrios and Tim Dunlop are exhilarated to discover this Hitchens quote"

Or they are exhilarated to discover to find someone with a similar view but they are wrong again.

Posted by: Gary at December 11, 2003 at 12:37 PM


No it would not have been "a soda to dig up a few WMDs". The neo-cons would have had to enlist the aid of the US Army for that, and the Army brass were, and have always been, against the war.

Moreover, whether pro- or anti-war, the Army brass has a professional code of honour that would forbid such partisan politicised acts.

The neo-cons are not bound by any such code and felt free to make up stories about WMDs in order to justify other policy plans, of varying strategic and moral value.
Steve Sailer, as ususal, puts his finger on it:

This may sound odd, but this whole embarrassment over Iraq's missing WMD makes me proud to be an American. Honestly. Why? Because the simple solution would have been just to plant some evidence. But nobody in the entire U.S. government has done that, at least not yet. We really should be impressed by the honesty of our soldiers.

The US is fortunate to have men of honour at the top of it's military force.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 11, 2003 at 06:02 PM


To interrupt the normal blogging commentary style of gratuitous insults and sophomoric pissing contests with a grace note, I must say that it's nice of you to say so.
I do apologise if I ripped your head off without proper cause.
Agonising over the rights and wrongs of this Gulf War thing has given me a painful twist in the guts.
Inclined to be a little bit touchy when I sense that someone is yanking my chain.
It's alright, I have settled down now.
Normal blogging comment nastiness may now resume.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 11, 2003 at 06:38 PM

Jack Gnocci? you're insane. Cheers!

Posted by: roscoe at December 11, 2003 at 06:58 PM

"Agonising over the rights and wrongs of this Gulf War thing has given me a painful twist in the guts."

Jack suffers for our sins.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 11, 2003 at 08:48 PM

Jack, except for your emotionally unstable friend you didn't convince anybody when you were pro-GW2 so no need to project your guilt onto others.

Posted by: Gary at December 12, 2003 at 04:40 AM

If Hitchens pulls his stuff out of his "arse," I dread to think where you get your crap from, Mirander.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 12, 2003 at 08:30 AM

Try this on for size. Atrios is a latter day Stalinist/Leninist. Like Hesiod, both are into political power formation. Like Uncle Sam - they want you! Not much there to be remembered. Except the killings, of course.

I've followed them for some time and can find no "redeeming social value". Both are anonymous, like Richard Wagner in his first Anti-Semitic book.

Jerks. Gerry

Posted by: Gerry at December 12, 2003 at 04:59 PM